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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

Thomas Vincent

LXVI. Ques. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, is a promise of long life and prosperity, (as far as it shall serve for God's glory and their own good,) to all such as keep this commandment.

Q. 1. What is the promise itself, which is annexed for the encouragement of those that keep this fifth commandment?
A. The promise itself which is annexed for the encouragement of them that keep this fifth commandment, is the promise of long life; and this is the first particular commandment with promise. "Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Exod. 20:12. "Honour thy father and thy mother; which is the first commandment with promise." Eph. 6:2.

Q. 2. How is the fifth commandment the first commandment with promise, when there is a promise of God's showing mercy unto thousands, annexed unto the second commandment?
A. The promise of God's showing mercy unto thousands, annexed unto the second commandment, hath not respect unto that commandment only, but is made to those that love God, and, with that, keep all his other commandments; whereas this promise of long life is particularly applied unto the keepers of this fifth commandment.

Q. 3. What is included in this promise of long life?
A. This promise of long life doth include, not only the continuance of life for a long time, which may be so accompanied with miseries that death may be more desirable; but also, it includeth the blessing and prosperity of life. "Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long upon the earth." Eph. 6:2, 3.

Q. 4. Do all those, then, that honour their parents live long and prosper upon the earth?
A. 1. Many that honour their parents, and are faithful in all relative duties, do now attain long life and prosperity in the world, and that by virtue of this promise; and those that do otherwise, are many of them cut off in their youth, or in the midst of their days, and bring the curse of poverty and want upon themselves whilst they live: yet withal, we may observe that temporal promises and judgments were fulfilled more in the letter formerly in the Old Testament times, than in the latter gospel-days, wherein they are often exchanged into spiritual. 2. This promise is to be understood with this exception so far as it may serve for God's glory and the real good of all those that keep this commandment; and oftentimes God is glorified, and they are benefited, when they are exercised with affliction, and God sees it best to take some of them home in their youth, or strength of their years, to himself; to hide them from the miseries that befall them that survive, and, instead of long life on the earth, he giveth them eternal life in heaven. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes." Ps. 119:71. " The righteous perisheth, and merciful men are taken away from the evil to come." Isa. 57:1. "This is the promise he hath promised us, even eternal life." 1 John 2:25.

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